I’m a photographer. I frame my world. But sometimes I can’t see anything. Sometimes it is something outside my world that blocks my view; most often it is inside my head. Whatever the cause the prescription is the same; I have got to shoot my way through it.
I credit photographer Jim Krantz for the phrase that is now my go-to solution; it describes the action I have taken for most of my life when self-doubt, insecurity, low self-confidence, fear or plain old “I just don’t know what to do” blues hit me. Whatever the reason – whatever the why – the only way out is to pick up a camera and frame my world.
For some reason, I find self-imposed limitations help. This is mostly true when I am scratching what could be an idea or working my way through a project. I select one lens, one camera – I limit myself to a few choices. By boxing myself in I give myself boundaries that allow me to feel safe to explore.
Sometimes, I walk with a camera, not always to create a new project but to allow myself the space to think more clearly. The walking and looking, especially in a place I haven’t walked in before, allow me to see what will connect the dots.
Driving can also help me break through a block. I find that it is best to drive without purpose. Bicycling is good, too. I especially like to bicycle in places where I don’t walk or drive. I remember one bike ride in the outer banks one summer that was particularly bountiful. The Light was perfect. I was using all of my senses for ideation.
On one particular walk I took in Philadelphia a few years ago, I was exploring the city with my camera, following the light with no particular subject in mind and I took some wonderful pictures. I remember I was using a Nikon F2 with a 58mm lens, that detail’s not important, although I do remember it.
I’d love to show you the photographs – they were spectacular – but I can’t. I somehow forgot to load film that day. A rare occurrence, but I was so used to shooting with my digital camera, that I simply forgot to check the film. It didn’t matter though. It was that walk and the act of shooting through it that helped me work out the project I was working through in my mind.